By: Henry Louis Gates Jr. | Posted: November 5, 2012 at 12:15 AM
That would be Barack Obama, right? While most of us have assumed this, and while this has been widely reported in the media, it turns out that this is not true. As a matter of fact, the first black president in North America was a man named Vicente Guerrero,
|Vicente Guerrero (1850. Oil on canvas, by Anacleto Escutia)|
In other words, Mexico had its own Barack Obama 54 years before Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and fully 179 years before we did! And the comparison with Lincoln is not an idle one: Guerrero, like Lincoln, has been immortalized for abolishing slavery in Mexico.
Disparagingly nicknamed "el Negro Guerrero" by his political enemies, Guerrero would in the United States have been classified as a mulatto. According to one of his biographers, Theodore G. Vincent, Guerrero was of mixed African, Spanish and Native American ancestry, and his African ancestry most probably derived from his father, Juan Pedro, whose profession "was in the almost entirely Afro-Mexican profession of mule driver." Some scholars speculate that his paternal grandfather was either a slave, or a descendant of African slaves. Read more here